In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace.
–Ephesians 1:7

Unconditional forgiveness is not only biblical and practical, but it is also beneficial. Probably the best reason to forgive others unconditionally is not because of what it does for your offender but because of what it does for you. Robin Casarjian writes, “When people think about forgiveness, they think about what it’s going to do for someone else. What they don’t realize is that forgiveness is really an act of self-interest. We’re doing ourselves a favor because we become free to have a more peaceful life–we free ourselves from being emotional victims of others.”

Have you ever attended an old-fashioned picnic where they had a three-legged race? For those of you too young to know what I am talking about, in a three-legged race you have your leg bound to your partner’s leg. When the gun goes off, you and your partner go hobbling down toward the finish course. If you have ever been in that situation, you know the thought that goes through your mind: “If only I could get free from this other person, then I could run a lot faster and a lot farther!” But three-legged races don’t allow for solo contenders. You are bound to the person next to you. You can travel no faster and no farther than he travels with you.

When you refuse to let go when somebody has hurt you, it is like you are binding yourself to your offender. You can go no farther and no faster in life than your offender is willing to travel. Your well-being depends on what your offender chooses to do. Forgiveness is the procedure God has designed for us to free ourselves from the one who hurt us. When we forgive somebody, we are saying, “God, You know that what this person did to me is wrong. You know that my offender deserves to suffer for what he did to me. But I don’t want to be bound to that person any longer. Today I’m letting go. I’m going to let You or somebody else settle the score with my offender so that I can be free to get on with my life.”

Now you may be saying, “Isn’t that a self-serving reason for forgiving?” You bet it is. And it is also a God-serving reason to forgive. Hebrews 12:1 urges us to “lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and … run with endurance the race that is set before us.” We are all in a race called the Christian life. We have a goal–“the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:14)–but as long as we are bound to the person who has hurt us, we will never be able to run with endurance the race God has designed for us.

Forgiveness is the way you separate yourself from your offender so that you can be free to live God’s will for your life.

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Today’s devotion is excerpted from “Forgiving Sorry People Who Aren’t Sorry” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2015.

Quote from Robin Casarjian, interview in “New Age Journal” (September/October 1993): 78; quoted in Tim Jackson, “When Forgiveness Seems Impossible” (Grand Rapids: Radio Bible Class, 1994).

Scripture quotations are taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.